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Wednesday, 27 May 1998
Page: 3833


Mr WILLIAMS (Attorney-General) (9:32 AM) —I move:

That the bill be now read a second time.

This bill complements the National Firearms Program Implementation Acts of 1996 and 1997 supporting a firearms buyback scheme in the territories of Norfolk Island, Cocos (Keeling) Islands and Christmas Island.

Following the tragic events at Port Arthur in April 1996 the Australasian Police Ministers Council agreed to nationwide gun control measures. A significant element of these measures was the amnesty and compensation scheme for owners of semiautomatic firearms. It was agreed that people who surrendered these firearms during the amnesty period would be compensated and the Commonwealth would pay the cost of the compensation scheme. The Commonwealth also agreed to pay compensation for the surrender of other prohibited firearms of a more dangerous type where the surrender is consistent with the spirit of the national firearms program.

The compensation-for-surrender scheme in the states and mainland territories was funded by a one-off increase in the Medicare levy for the income year 1996-97. The funds raised by that one-off levy will also meet the cost of the scheme in the territories of Norfolk Island, Cocos (Keeling) Islands and Christmas Island.

The bill provides for me to authorise payments for the purpose of providing compensation to firearms owners and dealers and for purposes directly connected to the compensation scheme and for implementation of licensing and registration schemes in the territories. The bill appropriates moneys from the consolidated revenue fund for these purposes.

The national firearms program has received bipartisan support. I ask that that support continue. I commend the bill to the House, and I present the explanatory memorandum to the bill.

Debate (on motion by Mr McMullan) adjourned.